Monday, February 15, 2010

Angry Management, by Chris Crutcher

Angry Management, by Chris Crutcher. New York: Greenwillow Books, 2009. ISBN-10: 0060502479; ISBN-13: 978-0060502478. 256 p.

Plot Summary
This collection of three novellas follows incidents in the lives of several teens who all participate in Mr. Nak's anger management group. Whether it's the only gay black kid in town facing prejudice and violence, a girl with disfiguring facial burns and her gay best friend, or a teen who doesn't get along with her adoptive father and must stand up to censorship of an article she wrote for the school paper, Crutcher examines his characters' reactions to difficult situations in their lives.

Critical Evaluation
Crutcher has a deft hand at drawing sympathetic, brave, outspoken characters. He manages to put teens in very difficult situations and still make them believable. Sometimes his characters do seem to have a very similar voice, especially if you read a lot of Crutcher books, but even if they all sound similar, they are still engaging characters. VOYA called it “well written, action packed, engrossing, and at times humorous . . . [Angry Management] is vintage Crutcher.” The quality of the three novellas is uneven and teens may not like all of the novellas equally--the first story has the least authorial voice present in the story, while the last is the most emotionally gut-wrenching--but Crutcher's black-and-white approach to controversial issues will appeal to many teens.

Reader’s Annotation
How does a gay black teenager deal with a double whammy of racism and bigotry? How does a teenage girl handle her political and social beliefs when they are the complete opposite of her adoptive father's? How do you fight back when you aren't taken seriously by the adults with the power to do something?

Author Information
Chris Crutcher is an author, educator, and family therapist who is well known for his realistic fiction. He grew up in a small town in northern Idaho, and currently lives in Spokane, Washington. His fiction is known for its unflinching honesty and authentic voice. To date, eight of his novels have been named as "Best Books for Young Adults" by the ALA. Crutcher is known for being outspoken against censorship and as a strong advocate for teen rights. His website can be found at

Of his books, Crutcher has said, "I can't think of a subject that is taboo for me, unless it's one I simply don't know anything about. Some teens are too sheltered, and others could use a little shelter. I think the value in books like mine, and a great number by other talented writers, is in the ability to bring dark subjects into the open where they are not so dark, where they can be talked about and considered by teens and adults alike. A lot of things I write about are tougher on adults than they are on teens."

Realistic Fiction

Short Stories

Curriculum Ties
Psychology/social work: abuse, dysfunctional families, physical disabilities, bigotry and racism, homosexuality

Booktalking Ideas
How would you react if you faced racism or abuse in your daily life? Read this book to read about teens who handle it with strength and humor.

Reading Level/Interest Age
Grades 9+

Challenge Issues
Child abuse, language, medical marijuana, sexual content.

I included this book because I have read everything else Chris Crutcher has written and he is a great writer! I have also read a lot on his stance against censorship and admire him for it. It was also a 2010 ALA Rainbow List selection.


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